egypt / Food. / Good Times / Tourism / Travel

Alexandria: Mini-holiday

Guys. I DID SOMETHING.

I know. Hold on to your hats. Pigs are flying and it feels a bit nippy in Hell.

After a long semester (though not quite as overwhelming as the last) I decided to reward myself for…well…nothing really, and coaxed a friend/coworker of mine into going with me for a 3-day getaway to Alexandria, once the seat of Egypt’s power in the time of the Ptolemaic/Roman rule, for a little bit of self-spoiling.

Exhibit A: One of about 20 identical boat photos.

Exhibit A: One of about 20 identical boat photos.

And the sea. And food. (I took a disturbing quantity of photos of both.)

We hopped on a train going from Cairo to Alexandria (buy tickets at Ramses station in Cairo, 70 pounds each way) and had a nice, 2.5-ish hour journey up to Alex, and stumbled out to find the air a thousand times fresher, and the environment a busy downtown city that somehow was still DECIBELS quieter than the big C.

Literally going off of the recommendation of one friend, we chose for our destination hotel the Paradise Inn Windsor Palace, (thus spending the whole week leading up to the trip singing WE’RE GOING TO THE PAAAALACE, WE’RE GOING TO THE PAAAALACE) which is a turn-of-the-century Edwardian hotel that prides itself on maintaining its old decor and glamour.  I’ll give them major style points, and major points for good service–we were greeted at the door with minty lemonade for check-in, and the staff was incredibly obliging and polite the whole time. (Although, the Egyptian women dressed in imitation British maid costumes were a bit…colonial?)

A lot of Egyptian buildings have kept the old open-style elevators. This one was swanky.

A lot of Egyptian buildings have kept the old open-style elevators. This one was swanky.

While the hotel was grand, I will admit we had a couple of “oh, Egypt” moments such as a slight smell in the room and a drain that, well…wouldn’t. (Sometimes it’s ok to update the building, even if the style is classic!) Go figure. However, the biggest reason we were drawn to the hotel is because we read the words “breakfast buffet until 11” and saw the following online:

Could have stayed here forever.

Could have stayed here forever.

Yeah, I got up early both mornings to go sit and read, drink REAL coffee, and eat a leisurely breakfast on that patio overlooking the Mediterranean. My life is suuuuuper awesome sometimes. (Ok, a lot of times.)

A snapshot of breakfast from the first day. No, this was not my only trip through the buffet line, and yes, I am that person who has to try some of EVERYTHING in a buffet.

A snapshot of breakfast from the first day. No, this was not my only trip through the buffet line, and yes, I am that person who has to try some of EVERYTHING in a buffet.

Back to the weekend, though. We took a long stroll by the corniche after checking into our hotel, making our way down to a fort called the Citadel of Qaitbay, built over where the ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria once stood. We meandered about, dodging obnoxious children and enjoying the sea breeze, and turned back when we got hungry to go to a highly recommended place I’ll write more about later. I’ll just sum it up by saying it was well worth a two and a half hour train trip.

For Qaitbay in the background, one of ten million children enjoying the weekend up front.

For Qaitbay in the background, one of ten million children enjoying the weekend up front.

After stuffing ourselves, we returned to our hotel where we perused the internet, travel guides, and listened to some truly terrible Italian talk show on one of the three available channels before heading upstairs for coffee and a bit of cheesecake (which strongly tasted like/resembled the Jell-o strawberry cheesecake cups from my youth) before deciding we couldn’t just sit inside all night.

All I ever want is American coffee. Honest.

All I ever want is American coffee. Honest.

So we hit the pavement once more, looking at all the clothing shops and cafés, and completely by happenstance passed a movie theater showing The Witch, which my friend really wanted to see. So we bought some tickets, came back at the showing time, and…

If only you could have seen the chairs...

If only you could have seen the chairs…

…were endlessly entertained by the shabbiness of the theater. Picture a high school stage, but super dingy/in a semi-unfinished room with mold on the ceilings and inexplicable dirt and stains all over the chairs. Given the spooky nature of the film, it was rather atmospheric. But we survived, and FYI that movie was amazing, go see it right now.

The next couple of posts will focus a bit more on food and activities from Alex, and hopefully I scrape those out of the way soon because starting this weekend I’m going full-on tourist for a bit!

Cheers,

-B

One thought on “Alexandria: Mini-holiday

  1. This looks like an amazing trip! & PS – we definitely booked our honeymoon based off one picture I saw of a rooftop terrace. You and I would be dangerous planning trips together.

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